Wizard Consultant Skills – Protection Spells for Saying “No”

Atomic is home to lots of very high-level wizards. Their abilities and specialties span the whole of the software craftsmanship space, and each one has their own skill set to leverage when tackling the many unique problems that come through our door.

I’m not a very high-level wizard yet, but I’ve found that deliberately striving to steal/pick up spells/skills from others as I observe them has been a pretty productive way to level up. Read more on Wizard Consultant Skills – Protection Spells for Saying “No”…

Problems Happen; How Do You Deliver the Bad News to Clients?

We’d like it if things always went smoothly, but in life, they seldom do. This truth holds for custom software projects as well—we struggle with unforeseen bugs, scope creep, a third-party integration that doesn’t work, team velocity lower than expected, projects more complex than originally thought, etc. In these situations, it’s helpful to remember how to deliver bad news effectively, in a way that moves the project forward. Read more on Problems Happen; How Do You Deliver the Bad News to Clients?…

Using “We” Language to Build Bonds with Clients

My wife and I typically visit family on the weekends, which involves a couple-hour drive and spending the night somewhere. She loves to have the house cleaned before we leave. That’s her goal. My goal is to leave on time. Those goals don’t line up very well unless there is a strong partnership effort. Read more on Using “We” Language to Build Bonds with Clients…

Improving on the Open Office Environment with Slack

At Atomic Object, we’ve always been big fans of the open office floor plan. Our offices consist of wide-open rooms with table groups where team members can easily work together. This environment allows spontaneous brainstorming sessions and problem-solving discussions to occur naturally throughout the day.

One thing that I really love about the open office setup is being able to hear bits and pieces of what other teams are doing throughout the day. When working on an application, it’s not at all uncommon to run across a problem that someone else has already addressed. If you know the right person to ask, sometimes you can save yourself a great deal of time and headaches just by having a discussion with a coworker. The open office environment helps make this possible. Read more on Improving on the Open Office Environment with Slack…

Negotiating Your Project Management/Development Approach with Clients

During the sales process, it’s really easy to spend all of your time talking with clients about their software needs while ignoring questions of process. But so often it’s organizational differences that causes all of the headaches. Clients often lack the authority to make quick decisions, have competing priorities, or are blocked by IT policies. This can present real challenges and perhaps some unpleasant surprises for agile teams once development starts.

Read more on Negotiating Your Project Management/Development Approach with Clients…

When Collaboration Goes Wrong

“Collaboration” sounds dreamy when people say it—as if everything will be great because we worked together on a project. But simply put, collaboration isn’t easy.

This post explores the challenges of collaboration, not in a negative light, but in the spirit of learning from challenging times to make interactions more positive in the future. Read more on When Collaboration Goes Wrong…

On Being “The Expert” & Disagreeing with Your Client

At Atomic, we pride ourselves on not just engineering the right code for a client, but on actively helping them shape their software to be the best possible solution for whatever problem they want to solve.

There’s a huge feeling of satisfaction that comes with the ability to own a product like that, but also a large amount of responsibility. Caring about whether or not a piece of software is solving the right problems (on top of being engineered the right way) introduces a whole new set of potential issues—the kind of issues that you can’t bash out at a command line. Read more on On Being “The Expert” & Disagreeing with Your Client…

7 Guidelines for Constructive Design Feedback

If you’re a client working with a polyvalent team of makers at Atomic Object, one of the most valuable things you can do is to give feedback throughout the project. This may come as a shock to you. In the past, you might have been involved in a project where feedback wasn’t welcome—or even treated as downright hostile. If that’s the case, let me be the first (and hopefully not the last) to apologize on behalf of consultants everywhere. Read more on 7 Guidelines for Constructive Design Feedback…

Don’t Suffer in Silence – A Template for Scary Conversations

People are complex and not always direct in their communication. This dynamic has the potential to create misunderstandings that can lead to a lot of anxiety when developing software. I’ve felt that anxiety myself from time to time, and it can be poisonous, leading to a lack of sleep, a lack of trust, and ultimately reduced productivity. But there’s a better way to handle confusing situations.
Read more on Don’t Suffer in Silence – A Template for Scary Conversations…